It's Yerman Again (1985-1991)

Copyright: Phil Rogers, Lucan, Dublin



Let the student beware


Symbols on a winter Sunday




Rocks rattling in an empty skull


Poetry for the people


Basket case




Five-organ recital


I am


Sun and shade




Brush strokes on a canvas




Two ways to the grave


The searcher


Cries and whistles from the mind


Everything and nothing


To Conor, five days after Independence Day 1995



* a. TRUTH

I show you nature through my eyes
but you must see my truths as lies,
unless your own experience
should drift with mine
as grappled boats, lost
in the ghostly fog
which scientists call truth.

You must reach and trap the fog
in baby's hands. Call it your truth.
But, if you dare to chink your hands,
be quick to look! Some truths can last
no longer than the dew at noon
nor than the lightning bolt
that streaks to earth in June.

The thought of truth as absolute
provokes me to irate invective!
The nearest thing to objective truth
is the death of the unconceived.
The fool who knows she is a fool is not.
The sage who thinks he is a sage is not.


Like digging moles, your eager minds
probed for slugs of knowledge hidden
in the humus of half-truths.
Your search is tonic to our jaded souls.

You drank my rehashed notes
as if your thirst could not be slaked
and bolted my cliched words,
then licked with relish from my fingertips

small crumbs of my truths.
You stomached them in your spring-bound books,
to ruminate on, quietly
pelleting your truth.

I loved you then for I'm a student too!



In my chaotic study
is a kind of order.
I can move at night
by memory or touch
to familiar corners:
waste basket,
chair, table,
reading lamp,
ream of blank paper,
biro bored with inactivity.

But beyond the window,
the closed door, what?
I lack the courage
to run through the doorway,
or jump through the window
to the waiting world.



I envy poets who can pen great literary flights -
allusion to the ancient lore
in pithy wordplay, earthy wit -
who know their craft so well
that they can stitch their tapestry of words
in godly forms.

If poets write for people,
not for intellectual elite,
their language must be clearly understood
or may as well be scratched
in Ogham strokes.
I need to free the self, to touch in ink
others stuck like me in the rut of life.

If my poetry can reach to mortgaged people
or brings identity to questing minds
or jerks a smile from one whose joy is lost,
I am well pleased.

In spite of rough-hewn images,
I hope to touch the quick of human mood.
That will be my gift to you -



Harsh words, sarcasm and spite drive out
the elfin, childlike sprite.
Frowns and shaking heads
can turn us into quaking clowns.

It is so easy to destroy the child in each of us.
But not so easy to create
a quiet, conscious sense of worth,
so vital for the growth of human joy
and lifelong peace - the vital element
to let us interact with love
with one another and the world.

Each of us has talents, juice
which can ferment to vintage wine
or sour and reduce to slime.
The yeast to rule the ferment
is the human eye and voice,
the body-talk of love, support
or hate and disapproval.

We can choose the happy or the gloomy path
in our transit through this life.

* 5. I AM

I am a writer whom nobody reads,
a singer of songs,
a thinker whom nobody heeds,
a righter of wrongs,
a pale face in the throng,
a desolate face, a screaming mouth,
a scratcher, an eater, a hearty laugh
and a weeping eye.

I am a dreamer whom nobody wakes,
an insomniac in a world of sleepers,
a lover seeking a beloved
in a brothel open to Access,
a creator with vision covered
in the dust and grime
of real-time.

But I blow away the dust and grime,
create my little gems of clay
in the cold light of the nuclear day
and watch them decay
in a half-life of 8.5 seconds.
I am yerman next door
and a terrible hoor.
But I am.


* 6. TOTEM

i am alone
in this hotel room
alone with my thoughts
and no-one to fight with
not one with whom to share
my heartfelt dreams. Is that the
ventilator humming in the jacks,
or but my thoughts
racing? Can I verify
my existence or do I
merely think that I am.
Sleep. Sleep.

Then a new dawn,
call it what you will
but I am alive today
and will try to find
some joy and meaning
in giving and taking
the yin-yang of life,
writing it down, aching,
mindful of you, and wife.


* 7. MAYBE

What am I but a pinch of salt,
sunbaked grains of earth
and ashy quicklime slaked
by an asperges of moondrenched water,
a moistened lump of potter's clay
spinning through space on a wobbly wheel,
raised by the creator's hand,
brought to life by his son's death,
quickened by his spirit fire.

Dust and spit am I,
destined to return
to slime, then dust.
But the Buddha-Christ
traced in dust
eternal words of hope.

Knowing all that,
I sat alone one autumn day,
a child of forty eight,
peering through rain-spattered glass,
hearing the howl of wind outside,
seeing the brooding rain-clouds,
craving the touch
of the Father's hand
to pat my head.

God! Please just lay your hand
and murmur: "It's all right!".
I waited with screwed-up eyes
but no hand came.
The bald patch on my crown
just grew balder.
Through empty eyes
I saw scudding clouds
over-sail parched earth,
saw teeming life
struggle from the rain,
saw whirling wind
soar fragile wings to heaven.

And the Gloria in Excelsis
poured from the syrinx of a lark.
And I knew peace,
oneness with the rain and wind,
oneness with the lark and hawk,
and I surrendered
to the universal hymn.
And, goddamit, I swear,
something patted my head,
right on the bald spot!



In the minds of brilliant men
God and the Devil fought. Both died,
they said. And in their places reigned
blind creation and seeing chaos,
wilful minds, meaningless and doomed.

But a simple poet searched for God
and did not find Her dead at all.
He did not have to seek the Devil -
She found him instead, appalled!



Tinker, my place is  
where my head and heart lie
down. I pitch camp with those
who fail but try.

Tailor, I sew my coat
of many hues
with black thread. It keeps out
cold graveyard blues.

Soldier, my arms rust,
threaten to burst in my face.
I abandon blood lust
for simple peace.

Sailor, I tack winds of fable
and my bow waves
are imperceptible
minutes later.

Rich man in friends and kin,
my bank manager invites me
to call and see him
but not for tea.

Poor man, I must die.
How they bury my body
costs me not one sigh
for now I breathe.

Beggarman, too proud to beg love,
night and day
I starve in comfort,
gut full, heart bare.

Thief, afraid to steal
white wine pledged to me,
I drink the red from Eve's
lips, while Adam sleeps.



Hit the keyboard, log-on.
See the words talk back in white,
luminous on the black screen.
A red light flickers and clicks
to the hum of the whirring disc-
no other sounds for comfort.

Outside, parked beside the padlocked gates,
lovers seek illicit solace
from the cold and dark.
Their log-offs will litter
the tarmac in the morning.

Words, words, thousands of words.
One program sorts, another separates them:
ape, apple, application, approach
to the noun file;
apply, appoint, appropriate
to the also file.

Later, mate the nouns
with esses and eds and ings,
doctoring them into plurals and adjectives.
The also words become
verbs, participles, adverbs
and other memorabilia
and in the weeks ahead
the lot will be constructed
into a massive lexicon,
symbols of communication,
my part of the human cry for oneness,
my cry. Symbols my eye!
Symbols of communication with whom?

I drive home, hypnotised by the swish of rubber
blades wiping tears from the windscreen,
the hiss of tyres riding on the rain.
Yes, love-rubber covers a multitude.

I eat in silence, brooding.
Busy day at the office dear?
Boars grunt at the sight of gilts.
I must learn to speak
before the raven spears my tongue,
beaks my vacant eyes.

But then, I vouch, there's much too much
idle discourse in this life, too much fiction;
too little useful action, too little loving touch.
And my truths told may lead to friction.



In their safe cave, the thinkers
huddle, mull over the seminar.
One, known as Nail-biter,
farts loudly, shamelessly.

Staring through eyes like two fused bulbs, she grunts
that "Cogito ergo sum" has severe limitations,
is the madness of the hairless ones to come.
She flint-scratches on the wall:

When she dismissed philosophies as yet unborn,
was she conscious of electric charges
flickering across her brain synapses,
like tension spark-forking a thunder sky
or could she predict the landslide
which blocked the cave-mouth,
suffocating the wise ones in each others' arms?
In the lee of a limestone rock,
an alpine flower feathers
in thin soil. It clings
to a day of vivid life, its perceivers
the Burren wind, a bee, the Watcher of dead stars
and my dream. Do you perceive it?

Bedded under kilotonnes of rock,
does diamond need observers
to prove that it exists,
or does it have an aura in tune
with a cosmic sense of being and need no proofs?
In a crevice on Ayres' Rock,
an Abo stone, shaped like a rampant male
gizmo, (a butty club and purse),
expands and contracts shyly and unseen
in its courtly circling 'round the sun.

Years after our final atomic Holocaust,
a lucky extraterrestrial tourist,
found the now-glazed crystal artefact.
He mused that only a very primitive class
of beings could make such a cock-up and balls
of a potential paradise.

Forsaking the deathly earthly silence,
he stuffed the useful gizmo in his pocket,
bore the silk-smooth dildo home to his mate
as he was (and would be) away a lot of late.



As I lay abed, hungover,
eyes gummed together, I felt as if
little green men with picks and shovels
were building tunnels in my head.
I tried to imagine existence
with all my senses lost.

I became
a hopeless basket-case,
blind, deaf,
anaesthetised completely,
yet conscious,
in a dark, terrible silence,
or worse, permanent flaring,
flashing lights in my eyes,
endless screaming, whining, whirring, clanging in my ears,
hallucinating ulcers, fire tearing at my skin,
vomit in my mouth,
stench of burning gangrenous flesh in my nose
and inner certainty
that this was all there was for me to know.
Jets of air turned me gently
in a soft cocoon.
Tubing fed my veins
and other tubes removed the waste.
My life support a hissing iron lung.
All the staff had run away,
leaving me switched on.
I could not reach out to pull the plug.

My eyes sprang open and I sobered instantly,
washed, shaved, ate and went to work
whistling, feeling very much alive.



Red heart, you will betray my love.
Yellow spleen, you kill with sighs.
Pale lung, you will be my groaning.
Dark kidney you will drain my fear.
Green liver, your wild anger kills.

Yet the ragged harmony continues,
point and counterpoint,
somehow batoned together,
the Maestro mouthing wildly:
"Play, you bastards, play".



* a. SUN

There are useless things in life -
the eternity ring,
dusty in a hock-shop window,
the locket photo of an unknown soldier
and his proud bride,
the never-never splashdown
of chimney-breast ducks,
the leaky leather and warped wood
of the bellows near the blocked-up grate,
the Mickey Mouse watch
which never worked
on the wrist of a happy four-year old,
the intensity
of academic arguments
gushing from glasses of port.
But they warm the mind
in the search for why
and for identity.

* b. SHADE

Full of life and confidence,
the sun on my face,
I hand-hop the waist-high gate.
Far from the roars of car-bombs,
out of sight of snipers,
secure in my familiar haunt
my heart stopped
before I landed
on the other side
and my eyes stared wide at the sky
that I could not see.



Jagged crag, what is your need?
To lose my stoneness in beauty,
avalanche, granite-chipped, myriad shaped,
mica glistened, marble streaked,

thunder down into the shrouded valley.
Empty valley, what is your need?
To be seeded with sound, colour, form,
swell the senses, mind to consciousness,

flood my fullness up my fertile slopes,
overflow to other empty craters.
Crag and valley fuse, explode,
disintegrate, reform to emptiness and stone again.

The canvas satisfies the painter's eye
and palette, brushes, paint
sleep the easel sleep of waiting.



* a. ONE WAY

At this moment,
around the world,
empty-eyed men
are sodomising children,
rapists are ejaculating
their fear and hatred of Eve,
gallons of loveless seed
are spurting uselessly,
inseminating nothing
but pain and loneliness.

At this moment,
around the world,
murderers are murdering,
thieves are thieving,
soldiers soldiering,
whores are whoring,
frauds defrauding,
capitalists exploiting.
Priests are priesting
from obsolete books,
the listeners' ears
stone deaf.

At this moment,
around the world,
fathers are sweeting up
women beyond their pale,
mothers are jumping
from tower flats,
foetuses are purpling
on stainless steel,
pushers are pushing,
junkies junking,
poachers poaching,
coaches coaching young offenders
in ways of indulgence and vice.

And I wonder where I'm at
as I wear the poet's hat,
observe the rumpled love bed,
unslept in since the silence
exploded in my head,
daub the gay paint of a clown
to mask my cheerless frown,
write down the lot of us
who know no God
but self.


At this moment,
around the world,
clear-eyed men
are enheartening children,
suitors are ejaculating
their joy and love of Eve,
gallons of love-full seed
are spurting usefully,
inseminating life,
or bonding happiness and hope.

At this moment,
around the world,
lifesavers are saving life,
protectors are protecting,
nurses are nursing,
virgins wait patiently,
sound people pay their share,
and socialists play fair.
Priests are priesting
from one short text -
love God through the world -
and the listeners hear.

At this moment,
around the world,
fathers are sweating
for their families,
mothers are jumping
to their childrens' needs,
foetuses are pinkly
heeling mothers' bellies,
healers healing,
patients recovering,
bailiffs conserving,
coaches coaching young offenders
to see the proper way.

And I wonder where I'm at
as I wear the dunce's hat,
observe the marriage bed,
which I will warm tonight
fantasies stilled in my head,
daub the sad paint of a clown
to mask the laughter I own,
write down the lot of us
who know no self
without God in another.



"Listen man", the starving curlew cried,
"I will open windows to your soul".

Piping high over oil-slicked slobs,
kept aloft by the Atlantic wind,
he admonished me:
"You panic when the postman knocks:
it might be bills, a summons,
the bank manager stroppy,
but it might be also
the first hello
from a dropped out son:
no contact for years,
or from a friend who went aground
on dark rocks of mind".
"Answer the door to life",
the curlew cried
in a trilling west Clare slide
"and dip into its tide".

"Yesssss", whistled otter,
cruising the far green bank,
one eye on the trout beneath, one on me.
He dives to survive, surfaces and whistles:
"Live man, live; the stars are dead!
You breathe! Know your pain,
hear the whimpering pup,
bind up wounds
which cause the world to groan.
Listen to the cries for help.
It is the pain of Godlessness!
Heal it and you will sing."

I light my pipe and smile.
"Thank you, curlew, otter,
you have more sense than I.
I want to fry, walk, fly, swim,
sway in my Elements.
For life and love, I must.
Oh, I can choose the other way
but I will pay the price.
For I was sent by One
who sends what must be sent.
And the Sender traced
an arrow on the road
to where my life might go.
And who am I to argue it's not so".
The otter swam, the curlew piped:



I am the wand'ring soul,
wanting things to be
the way they were
twenty years ago.

I see the priests
of "Hey man, Yo!"
demanding efficiency
from all their flock,
though they themselves
have never felt
the balm of heaven, or the welt
on backs, on souls
of sense of Celtic loss.
I am afraid that trade,
of land, soul, me
must rule OK,
that in the money-fray
my sense of play,
of here and now must be denied.

I cry inside. I ply
the ways to see
meaning in the way
we are today. I pale and quail
in the failed equation
that we, a nation of great wealth
are conned by stealth
of money grabbers, soul robbers.

But my pride in roots
in Ceide fields,
Newgrange whorls, girls
with steady eyes, firm thighs
whispered "Hold your whist,
you are not the first
to bay at moons
which tell the runes of change".
Am I deranged?

No, I think
therefore I am
merely the jam
in the sandwich that bewitches,
the haze that shimmers
in the void between
changelessness and change.

I am an ageing clown. I will fall down
lose my smile someday, but not today,
dear Jesus, not today.


Develop this theme [on consciousness / aware of being aware]
There are days when the light shines laser pure
and the light in my head shines through